Since speeding to two medals at the Parapan American Games in August, Whitehorse’s Jessica Frotten hasn’t slowed down.
Within a couple days of roaring to two bronze at the Games, the 27-year-old para wheelchair racer was already back training hard.
She knew her results at the Parapans could earn her a spot at the world championships and she didn’t want to lose a millisecond off her times.
Her toil was not in vain.
Frotten will race for Canada at the International Paralympic Committee Athletics World Championships this month in Doha, Qatar, Athletics Canada announced Monday.
“I was super-duper excited,” said Frotten, who received her invite on Friday. “I really didn’t know because the team going to worlds is smaller (than Parapans). I mean, there are a lot of great athletes on the athletics team.”
“It’s been a little tough. I trained so hard for the Parapans. I came off that with such a high and it was kind of like, ‘OK, you have to do it all over again.’ So it’s been a little difficult to stay focused. But now knowing I made the team, it really got my head back in the game.”
Frotten is one of 35 athletes and just 12 females on the team heading to worlds.
She describers herself as a “rookie” on the team and she sort of is. Teammate Ilana Dupont of Quebec, for instance, won hardware at the 2008 Paralympics in Beijing.
Frotten has simply come a long way in a very short amount of time. She pocketed her first track wins in the spring of 2013 at a meet in Victoria, B.C., became a Canadian champion in 2014 and has now established herself as one of the top athletes in her sport. She is currently listed as seventh in the 100-metre and eighth in the 200-metre in the IPC world rankings.
“I’ve put my heart and soul into it, I’ve been making a lot of sacrifices for it as well. So it’s nice to see all that hard work paying off, getting recognized at the international level as a contender,” said Frotten. “It’s pretty sweet.”
Frotten won medals in two of her three events at the Toronto Parapans in August. She captured bronze in the women’s 400-metre T53 final with a personal best time of 1:01.13 and bronze in the 100-metre, just 0.62 seconds behind Dupont. She also took fourth in the 800-metre.
All five of Frotten’s events will be held in Doha, but she’s going to pass on the 1,500 to focus more on the 100, 200, 400 and 800.
Frotten won three bronze at the 2013 Canada Summer Games in Quebec, two gold at the Canadian Track and Field Championships the next summer, was on the national team for the Parapans, and will now race for Canada at the worlds. The next logical step would be the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio. Sept. 8 marked the one-year countdown to the start of the Games and Frotten’s ultimate goal.
“It was a goal that seemed so far away when I made that my goal,” said Frotten. “Now, the way I’ve been racing and the Parapans and now worlds, it’s all becoming more of a reality. It’s totally awesome, but it freaks me out at the same time.
“I’m still the newest racer on the national team, so I still have rookie status ... But to get to Rio in such a short timeframe would just be amazing.”
To make her Paralympic dream come true, Frotten is training on the track five times a week. She has a weightlifting regiment she calls the “Rocky training program,” referencing the Sylvester Stallone movie franchise. It’s not a term of endearment.
“Weights are like my least favourite thing in the whole world. Right now it’s strength training and in the next couple of weeks I’ll switch and do power. Turn all the strength I’ve gained into power.”
“The guys at First Steps (Wellness Centre in Saskatoon) have been so great, so supportive,” added Frotten, who lives in Regina. “Even when I’m having a sucky day and I’m crying about lifting weights, they push me, but they don’t push me so hard it’s too much. And my coach (Rick Reelie) in Saskatoon is really great.
“I just have the most amazing support system. The whole Yukon Territory backs me - probably gives me the edge.”
Before hitting the track at the worlds, Frotten and the Canadian team will take part in a training camp in Dubai. It’ll be a good chance to get used to the heat she’ll face in Doha.
The IPC Athletics World Championships take place Oct. 21-31.
“If anyone wants to watch my races, they’ll have to get up at weird hours because it’s 10 hours ahead in Doha,” said Frotten. “I’m sure my dad will be up because he did it for the world juniors for hockey.”
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